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Thread: Argh...

  1. #1
    Americana in France? Daniel Nestlerode's Avatar
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    Default Argh...

    I wish someone would make an amp for the frequencies a 5 string electric mandolin puts out.

    Frankly a little frustrated with the available choices these days.

    I know several of you are happy with bass rigs because of their full spectrum. But I'm looking for something that can get a bit dirty. I want to overdrive the preamp stage a bit, you know?

    If there's something out there, please share it with me.

    Daniel

  2. #2
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Argh...

    If I was in your situation I'd be auditioning the cheapest guitar amps I could find. Kind of like the old blues guys playing the guitars they bought at Sears and Montgomery Ward. Everybody raves about the sound but the truth is that was all they could afford. I'd stay away from the major manufacturers. You want dirty that should give you dirty
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

  3. #3
    Dave Sheets
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    Default Re: Argh...

    Play a lot of different amps. Go to a large guitar store, and try a bunch. Plug into your friends amps, the sound you hear in your head may come from an amp you weren't expecting. For years, I avoided Marshal amps, because they were associated with styles of music I don't play (or enjoy much really), but I plugged into a Marshall DSL and found the the guitar sound I've always wanted...Sigh, wish I'd played one sooner. Mandolins, I play clean, but electric guitar, I want a lot of dirt and wail, in specific ways.

    Try things you don't expect to work, go try some smallish tube amps for example, plus a couple of other "classic" amps to see if one delivers what you want. Amps come in tonal "families", not unlike mandolins, make sure you try at least one from each family. This is a brief list of some distinct flavors of amps, with different tone color and response: Fender reverbs, Fender Blues Jr, Fender Bassman, Vox AC15/30, Marshall DSL, JCM 800, JCM 900, some of the Mesa amps (Mark ii, Mark V, Ta 15/30), Roland Jazz chorus, Polytone. There are variants on each, and I've probably missed a couple of other "standards", but this covers quite a range of sounds.

    Also, try using a good compressor, if you have never tried one, they really open up a wide range of alternatives, particularly in front of a tube amp. The behringer compressor is cheap and works fine, it might help you figure out if a compressor is what you need.
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    Registered Muser dang's Avatar
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    Default Re: Argh...

    I have really been enjoying a Fender Hot Rod Deluxe IV
    I should be pickin' rather than postin'

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    Registered User Tom Wright's Avatar
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    Default Re: Argh...

    Quote Originally Posted by Daniel Nestlerode View Post
    I wish someone would make an amp for the frequencies a 5 string electric mandolin puts out.

    Frankly a little frustrated with the available choices these days.

    I know several of you are happy with bass rigs because of their full spectrum. But I'm looking for something that can get a bit dirty. I want to overdrive the preamp stage a bit, you know?

    If there's something out there, please share it with me.

    Daniel
    While I donít know what you feel are the frequencies a 5-string puts out, I can guess it is a lack of smooth transition to a sweet overdrive tone that you want. I will suggest you probably would enjoy an appropriate midrange cut after an overdrive pedal. This combo works for me, even straight into a recording interface. My (analog) overdrive pedal yields a range of tone simply by changing the tone control on my mando. Wide open bright tone gets lots of sizzle, dark rolled-off tone makes for barely noticeable grumble. In all cases it smooths the attacks, adds sustain, and compresses the total signal. A good OD pedal will allow a clean tone when mando volume is low, becoming dirty as you increase volume.

    I find that the right overdrive setup, independent of the amp, coupled with the right speaker, is the key to good tone from an emando. For EQ the 7-band Boss pedal is sufficient, using a substantial cut at both 800 and 1600. I have tried but failed to get the sound I want without some curve shaping.

    For me it is all about the midrange, which tends to be so strong it covers both the high sparkle and the rich bottom, and is just sort of thick and uninteresting.
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    Americana in France? Daniel Nestlerode's Avatar
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    Default Re: Argh...

    Thanks guys. All good advice, taken in various forms over the years already.

    I'm just grousing because all the gear is made with guitars and guitar players in mind.

    - EQ parameters on amps include lower frequencies a 5 string emando doesn't get down to.
    - The power generated in an electro-magnetic pick-up by a string running approximately 25" is different from the power generated by a string running 14" to 16", so amps react differently to emandos than they do to guitars.
    - Speakers are designed and rated for guitars (or basses).
    - Likewise effects and sounds are designed for an instrument where the higher frequencies are used more sparingly. For example, I have a Marshall MG series with 3 dirty to super-overdriven channels that are useless to my emandos, but not too bad for my guitar. Also, the Mooer octave pedal I bought recently sounds different when I plug the guitar into it.

    I'd really like to have a sit-down with a custom amp builder and discuss these things. I bet the result would be cool, though not particularly viable from an economic point of view.


    Daniel

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    Registered Muser dang's Avatar
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    Default Re: Argh...

    I definitely empathize with you about the EQ... not specifically targeted to mando range - even for expensive acoustic preamps this seems to apply.

    Quote Originally Posted by Daniel Nestlerode View Post
    ....But I'm looking for something that can get a bit dirty. I want to overdrive the preamp stage a bit, you know?
    Not sure about Fender availability in your neck of the woods but I took my emando to a local guitar store and plugged into as many as I could and the fender tube amps sounded best to me. And the Hot Rod Deluxe IV really has a nice overdrive I can dial in, very warm and responsive, not thin like the other amps I tried. Stock overdrive was warmer then my TS808 when I tried it in line. For me itís an amp that makes me not want to use any pedals... I had previously had a fender mustang amp and a marshall combo and neither of those worked well with emando for me.
    I should be pickin' rather than postin'

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    Registered User Rodney Riley's Avatar
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    Default Re: Argh...

    Quote Originally Posted by Daniel Nestlerode View Post

    I'd really like to have a sit-down with a custom amp builder and discuss these things. I bet the result would be cool, though not particularly viable from an economic point of view.


    Daniel
    https://jchesteramplification.com/ Jordan would love to have this discussion. NFI Just know he’s very “in tune” to what a person is seeking in their amps.

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    Registered User mandolinstew's Avatar
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    Default Re: Argh...

    Quote Originally Posted by Daniel Nestlerode View Post
    I wish someone would make an amp for the frequencies a 5 string electric mandolin puts out.

    Frankly a little frustrated with the available choices these days.

    I know several of you are happy with bass rigs because of their full spectrum. But I'm looking for something that can get a bit dirty. I want to overdrive the preamp stage a bit, you know?

    If there's something out there, please share it with me.

    Daniel
    Quilter

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  12. #10
    Registered User Elliot Luber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Argh...

    Try out someone's Tube Screamer pedal or something similar that can create the sound in the pre-stage. Of course the only true solution to the speaker is a speaker. Have you tried amps with an smaller eight-inch speaker? People have talked about that on the cafe. I haven't had much opportunity to play loud lately, so I'm not up on what kinds of crunch and speakers kick butt with mandolin. For guitar, it was easy, a 12-inch Celestion.
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    Default Re: Argh...

    Buy a Boss overdrive pedal.

  14. #12
    Registered User vwfye's Avatar
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    Default Re: Argh...

    Old tube bass amps will get dirty. My little 10" univox u45b is great for it.
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    Default Re: Argh...

    Q: What is your typical playing situation in which you hope to hear overdriven pre amps?

    Horses for Courses: At gig volumes last weekend (8/10), the Super Champ XD set on its clean channel was offering enough overdrive to satisfy. But at home that volume would be outrageous! OTOH: The Vox AC30 has a Master Volume, so getting preamp overdrive at reasonable levels is quite easy (carrying 70lbs to/from the gig... not as easy).

  16. #14
    Americana in France? Daniel Nestlerode's Avatar
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    Default Re: Argh...

    Thanks guys.

    I think I overstated my case. The reason I don't want a bass amp is because guitar amps tend to colour the tone more, and I'm after a bit of colour, especially with the JBovier.

    We have had the overdrive discussion.

    I've used a silver face Fender Champ and couple of different small Marshalls. Right now I'm using a Marshall MG30CFX and ignoring everything but the clean channel and the reverb. My little G15 RCD is currently in need of repair. It's not really sturdy enough for the road and died on my last tour of the UK. (do not lay it down on its back to transport it!) I miss the line out on that little guy. The MG30 only has a headphone out which cuts the speaker.

    Back in the states, resting comfortably with a very good friend, are a Montgomery Ward little 3w single channel and an early 2000s Ampeg Jet II 1x12. Not sure if I should sell them and get something made for 240v or pay cost of shipping them here.

    I'm always looking for something that matches the mandolin more.

    Going to shops is not really an option. The nearest are in Reims, San Quentin, or Soisson. If they have a decent amp selection, they have no idea what an emando is.

    At the moment I'm going in two directions: BluGuitar's Amp 1 and this little guy: http://www.jmh-custom.com/ampli-lamp...five-lite.html.


    Daniel

  17. #15
    Quietly Making Noise Dave Greenspoon's Avatar
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    Default Re: Argh...

    My Laney Cub 10 sounded great with the 5 string, even before rolling tubes and swapping the speaker. Great tone, no weight, simple controls, loves pedals, and easily mic'd for larger venues.
    Axes: Rigel A Natural #1774 w/mods, Andrew Jerman Irwin-style 5 string electric "Stealie", Eastman 515, Shiro F-5, Crafter M85E, Dillion 335 style, Grandmom's solid-mahogany teens bent-top, Baglamas 002
    Boards: Acoustic Electric
    Amps: Fishman Loudbox 100; Rivera Clubster Royale Recording Head; Laney Cub 10 & Cab, Peavey Studio Pro

  18. #16
    Americana in France? Daniel Nestlerode's Avatar
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    Default Re: Argh...

    We have a winner (ish).

    It doesn't tick all the boxes, but it sounds great. I have reacquired my Ampeg JetII J-12T (15w, 1x12").
    Ampeg made a bunch of these in 2007 and 2008. I bought mine new. Did not use it much, preferring smaller quieter amps. So when I moved to the UK in 2010, I left it with a good friend.

    My friend Matt sent it along to France a couple weeks ago.

    Here's why it works for me:
    1. The tone control is a single knob treble boost/rolloff. Keeping it set around 3 for my JBovier EMC-5 works like a charm.
    2. The over drive tones are excellent. British sounding (EL-84 tubes) rather than Fender-y and the clean tones are very sweet. I plug on directly. It sounds best that way. I might drop the SlideRig in front of it to see how that goes. But I suspect this is one of those amps that will always sound best without a lot of boxes in front of it.

    Here's why it's "-ish"
    1. The spring reverb sounds more like a plate. It's run on a solid state circuit, so it's a bit harsh.
    2. The Tremolo circuit isn't as sweet as a Fender tremolo. I'm still tweaking it to find a setting I like.
    3. It's a single gain stage amp. You get overdrive by turning it up louder.
    -- It sounds great! But you'll need ear plugs. I tend to leave it set to 3 (just past overdrive) and turn the volume knob on the EMC-5 down quite a bit. The sounds cleans up but leaves a bit of dirt, and the volume is manageable.

    The search goes on. But now that I have a killer single stage tube amp, I'm free to seriously consider the BluGuitar Amp1. Which will tick all the other boxes.

    Daniel

  19. #17

    Default Re: Argh...

    I have an Epiphone Valve Junior. 5 watt valve amp. I love it with both my four string mando and five string octave. It is simply an on off switch and volume but it does seem to get a sound I like. I use a compressor and one or two pedals sometimes. It can be a bit loud if the neighbours are in we have thin walls though.
    The other thing is itís such a simple amp if you can use a soldering iron and a multi meter you can modify the tone to your taste. Thereís even tone stacks and other mods if you want.
    Be warned though itís a slippery slope to TAS or tool acquisition syndrome. For some reason I have an oscilloscope on my bench.

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